Giving Marockie Credit
How quickly we forget — the days of schools falling apart, being overcrowded, and lacking necessary facilities — until in 1976 Dr. Henry Marockie, after one year in office as superintendent of Ohio County Schools, built a school that rivaled any other school in the state.
He merged three high schools, all with age-old traditions and athletic teams that had competed against each other for many years, with few repercussions from any of them and despite naysayers who predicted dire circumstances when the three schools met for the first time.
He allowed the students to choose their school name, motto and colors.
They chose Patriots because of the year, 1976, and colors red, white and blue.
Leif Green designed the school symbol.
The colors were from the three high schools.
Some adults objected to their choices, but Dr. Marockie felt the students should make those decisions.
WPHS offered academic choices for all students — advanced, average and special education.
Students could choose what academic opportunity that fit their needs and counselors were available to help them with their choices. That tradition continues today.
WPHS has a theater, swimming pool and a Performing Arts Center.
The Drama Department has each year produced award winning plays lauded by many in the community.
The Performing Arts Center hosts dramatic and musical performances. The Speech Team has won first place in state competition for the past forty years.
Many of the students in speech and drama have gone on to successful careers in theater and business because of their academic experiences in speech and drama. My daughter attributes her early success in business directly to her foundation in speech class.
The music program is not just a band that marches up and down the field during football games.
The students have training in many types of music — jazz, choral,choir, strings, chords, steel drums, orchestra, symphony orchestra, and others.
There are numerous vocational classes from body shop and automotive to child care and nursing to building construction to horticulture and several others which allow students to go directly to jobs after graduation or to apprentice programs that lead them to future jobs such as restaurant management and pre-engineering.
Young men and women can participate in many sports programs besides football, basketball and wrestling.
They can also choose golf, tennis, hockey, track, baseball, softball, volleyball and swimming.
These skills are carried on into their life experiences and are often stepping stones to a life career or an avocation.
All academic levels are taught at WPHS. Students may choose average or advanced placement classes which can allow a student to test out of some college classes. Many merit scholars, a college admissions professor told me that WPHS is really a “junior college” because of its myriad and advanced opportunities.
He also said colleges are impressed when a student excels with a large number of students with whom to compete.
Special education classes are included for those students who are often overlooked or rejected from school settings or are left to be cared for by the community. They are provided with work skills that allow them to go directly into work positions after graduation.
There is something for everyone at WPHS if students take advantage of them. The location of the school or the number of windows is secondary to the opportunities at WPHS which hundreds of students have profited from-leading to successful careers.
As a teacher, I can appreciate the location of the school since few students would attempt to walk off the hill to skip school.
And fewer windows are the norm today in school architecture because of security.
The school is a success because of the numerous students, faculty, support personnel (thanks, Darlene) and administration who have worked so hard to make it so.
And because of the foresight of Dr. Marockie who saw the need for better opportunities for the children of Ohio County 44 years ago.